Study Guide: Joy

Sunday December 15, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Brief Summary:

Why did Jesus come to earth? The most common answer is he came to save us. This week we discuss another answer to this question. Jesus came to show us the perfect joy of his Father and to give that joy to us. It is by knowing that the Father takes joy in each of us that we can begin to grow in the joy he desires for us.

Extended Summary:

The advent season is celebrated on the church calendar in the five weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of our coming King. This week our focus is on joy—the joy Jesus had in coming to earth and the desire he has to give it to us. A fitting question to ask during the advent season is “Why did Jesus come to earth?” One of the most common responses to this question is Jesus came to save us. While this is indeed true, it isn’t the only answer to the question. Jesus came for more than undertaking a rescue mission, sent to earth to save people from their sins. Jesus came from heaven as good news, sent to preach the good news.

The Gospel of Luke tells about an angelic message given to the shepherds around the time Jesus was born. The angels declare here that God took great joy in sending his Son to a people that brought him joy. Jesus indeed came to save us, but he saves us from the one who steals, kills, and destroys—not the Father in heaven. Jesus desires that his joy would become our joy. God wants each of us to have the full measure of his perfect joy. He doesn’t simply want us to be happy—an emotion that comes and goes based on circumstances. He wants us to have joy—an enduring state of being that remains regardless of circumstances.

This joy is found even on the cross, which was both horrific and shameful for Jesus to endure. The cross revealed the perfect love of the Father. Since God is love, we can think of it like this: the more loving one is, the more joy one finds in pouring themselves out for another. The cross was a joy to Jesus, as it resulted in the ultimate pouring out of the perfect love of God. When joy is our answer to why Jesus came, we begin to understand why the angels declared their message as good news. A Father of perfect love desiring to give his children his perfect joy is very good news—it is the best news!

As we begin to know the truth of a beautiful God who is perfect love, we will begin to grow in the joy he wants to give us. Satan has deceived us with ideas about God that are actually demonic—lies of a God so angry that the only thing capable of appeasing his wrath was the death of his only son. The truth is God is not angry at you, but God is pleased with you and pleased to give you his joy. While believing Satan’s lies about God leads us to fear him and hide our sin, knowing the truth about God leads us to transparency in our relationship with him and transformation in our lives. The joy God desires for us is found by knowing the God who is perfect love. As we do this the good news becomes the life we live, rather than a belief we hold.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Prior to the sermon, what would your answer have been to the question, “Why did Jesus come to earth?”
  2. Is there anyone in your life who has the same kind of joy discussed in the sermon? What is it about this person that causes you to regard them as joyful?
  3. Have you ever had a belief about God that was actually a lie from Satan? What was it and how did you come to know the truth?
  4. Why do you think God desires us to have joy? What fruit comes from those in Christ who have such joy?
  5. How would you answer the question, “What is the good news?”